Top Menu

The Lattimer Massacre

Lattimer Massacre

marching toward lattimerThe anthracite miners of northeastern Pennsylvania were early members of the UMWA. In 1897, anthracite miners were faced with low wages, poor working conditions and sporadic work. The miners struck to improve these conditions, but poor coal market conditions led coal operators to harden their opposition to the miners' demands. The companies decided on a show of force by their own company police and by the cooperative sheriff of Luzerne County, James Martin. On Labor Day, thousands of non-union miners who were UMWA supporters marched peacefully in the anthracite mining towns. In the following days more marches occurred. Anxious to avoid violence, the UMWA leaders urged marchers not to carry even walking sticks, though American flags abounded.

On September 10, the strikers marched to Lattimer and were stopped by a force led by Sheriff Martin. The unexpected halt led to confusion and jostling, and shots suddenly rang out. Nineteen of the miners were killed, and perhaps fifty more were wounded, in what became known as the Lattimer Massacre. Although the violence was committed by the so-called forces of law and was needless the sheriff had dispersed larger, rowdier crowds alone in previous confrontations no one was convicted for the murders at Lattimer.

The primary result of the massacre was rapid growth in unionism in the anthracite region. During the next four months approximately 15,000 new names were added to the UMWA rolls.

Find out more about:


Become an Associate Member

united mine workers journal

hound dog

Music, Books, Movies

I need a union

UMWA Kerr Scholarship

contact Congress

United Mine Workers of America seal

United Mine Workers
of America

18354 Quantico Gateway Drive
Suite 200
Triangle, VA 22172